20 MENA startups keeping your car on the road

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This is the second part of our week-long look at smarter transport in MENA. Read the first here and the second here.

Car sales are rising in MENA and entrepreneurs are following this with a parallel increase in car-related startups.

They are seeking to digitize traditional services like car washing, mechanical inspection, finding parking spots and others, so we've compiled a list of 20 startups, excluding those involved in road navigation or car rental/selling, that offer car maintenance and assistance, car washing, and connected devices that you might find useful next time you get behind the wheel.


Roadside assistance and car maintenance apps

Beliaa - roadside assistance
Egypt
Founders: Ahmed Ismail, Amgad Morgan, Amr Elghadban in 2013
Investment: $10, 200
 

Beliaa - Egyptian slang for ‘mechanic boy’ - provides roadside assistance by connecting users to the nearest car mechanic in Cairo. The app, which free to use, also reminds users to book car maintenance appointments and provides regular updates of Cairo traffic.

Stukk - roadside assistance
Dubai, UAE
Founders: Gaurav Dhar, Ammar Alaradi, Geoff Grandberg in 2016
Investment: $0
 

Launched in April, Stukk is a roadside assistance app for unexpected emergencies on the road such as flat tires, breakdowns that require towing, or running out of fuel. Stukk will be available in all of the UAE by the end of April.

Salla7ny - car maintenance
Egypt
Founders: Ahmed Issam, Ahmed Shehata, Ayman Alaa in 2014
Investment: $30,000 from crowdfunder Zoomaal

Salla7ny is an IoT car monitoring device that locates the source of damage in the car, as well as areas that need long-term maintenance. It was launched in 2014.

Markabaty - car management records
Jordan
Founders: Firas Al Sahawneh, Abeer Omar in 2013
Investment: $20,000

Driving apps in MENA are on the rise. (Image via Shutterstock)

This free app helps users keep a record of every aspect of their car function, including maintenance schedule, cost of replacement parts, audio installation, mileage and check-up appointments. It also gives users DIY tips to save on trips to the mechanic, as well as allowing users to rate nearby mechanics. 

Winch - towing
Kuwait
Founder: Adel Al-Ghannam and Abdulaziz Al-Eneziin in 2015
Investment: $0

 

After a breakdown Winch, which is Kuwaiti slang for tow truck, sends a team of their registered drivers to help move a user’s car safely to the nearest mechanic. Users can track drivers’ routes via GPS to make sure their car arrives safely, and give them a rating. The app can be used for free, while payment (in cash) can be negotiated personally with the driver.

 

Tow My Drive - roadside assistance
UAE
Founder: Odouar Allan in 2016
Investment: $0

The GPS-based app Tow My Drive claims to cover all the UAE, giving it a competitive advantage over other apps. Their specialty includes helping users jumpstart their car, refill fuel tanks and fix flat tires, for a price range of 150 UAE Dirhams (US$41) to 250 Dirhams ($68).

Secure Drive Company - accident reporting
Tunisia
Founders: Ahmed Ghamgui, Marouen Birkcha in 2015
Investment: $0

This Tunisian startup has an embedded hardware and software system that in the event of an accident automatically reports a user’s location to emergency services and sends an SMS to a pre-programmed number of a family member or friend. The startup won first place at The Movility Awards ceremony last year.

 

Mosa3ed - spare parts
Egypt
Founders: Mustafa Khubeir, Moutazz Ahmed, Ahmed Dia’, Tarek Zaalook in 2015
Investment: $0

Mosa3ed is a free app that helps users locate spare parts providers in the country, and lists all the latest offers and discounts of their partners. It also allows users to review different mechanics and maintenance providers.

Hudway - safety
Russia (available in Dubai recently)
Founder: Ivan Klabukov (Russia) in 2013
Investment: $525.96 from crowdfunding

Hudway is a free app that guides drivers during bad weather and low visibility conditions by asking them to upload their destinations and driving routes, after which they place their phone on the dashboard and follow the offline directions that appear on the screen. The app was made available in Dubai last year.


Car wash apps

Blink My Car - car wash app
Beirut, Lebanon
Founders: Rami Hallal, Ralph Choueiri in 2015
Investment: Private investment led by Al Amir Holdings

Launched earlier this year, Blink My Car is an app that receives bookings for car washes and dispatches a team to the user’s car. Blink my car charges 15,000 Lebanese pounds (US$10) to 18,000 pounds ($12) for both motorcycles and cars.

Ghaseel - car wash app
Kuwait
Founders: Omar Al Othman, Saleh Al Musalam in 2015
Investment: $0

Ghaseel, an Arabic term for ‘washing’, is a carwash marketplace that allows Kuwaitis to compare prices and services of more than 20 car washes and place an order via the app. Payment is done online or by cash-on-delivery.

GreenSteam - eco-friendly car wash
Dubai, UAE
Founder: Murad Najjar in 2014
Investment: $0 

An on-demand car washing service, GreenSteam is an eco-friendly startup that claims not to use more than one litre of steamed water for each car and that it can provide better germ elimination because of the hot temperature used. Prices vary from 130 UAE dirhams (US$35) to 720 dirhams ($196). Payment is done online.


Parking Apps

Yalla Parking
Dubai, UAE
Founders: Craig McDonald, Harrison Jones in 2016
Investment: self-funded, undisclosed

Yalla Parking is a platform that allows users to ‘list’ their own parking spaces for rent and connects them with drivers willing to pay for these parking spots. Launched a few months ago, the website has already had a few hundred sign ups. Current prices vary between 250 UAE dirhams (US$68) and 500 dirhams ($121).

Rakna - valet parking
Cairo, Egypt
Founders: Ahmed Zaki, Omar Radi in 2016
Investment: $0

Rakna is an on-demand valet parking service in Cairo. Users notify the team of their exact location via an app, and a nearby valet is dispatched to park the car. They charge 10 Egyptian pounds (US$1.3) for the first hour, 3 pounds ($0.34) an hour after that, and limit payments at 30 pounds ($4) a day.


Connected cars

Vinli - app store device
Texas, US
Founders: Mark Haidar (Lebanon) and Scott Haper (US) in 2014
Investment: $6.5 million from Samsung

Vinli is a platform that enables users to connect their car to high speed internet, mobile apps and host specific features specific to an individual car. Vinli is a hardware device - a USB - that plugs into a car’s diagnostic port and links to apps on Vinli’s own app store.

Dashroad - performance measure 
UAE
Founder: Faheem Gill (USA) in 2015
Investment: $15,000

Dashroad helps users save money by compiling data about their car’s performance. This data can help them save on insurance, as well as make better deals when selling their car second-hand. Launched in 2015, the startup’s first customer was Careem.

Chifco - fleet management
Tunisia 
Founder: Amine Chouaieb in 2010
Investment: $200,000

Chifco is an Internet of Things (IoT) startup that helps users make everyday objects smart. Its products include fleet control and GPS fleet management. This option is useful for digitizing goods and cargo transportation.


Others

Gershad - checkpoints
Iran
Founders: Anonymous, in 2016
Investment: $0

This free app helps users avoid the country’s morality police and onto different routes. The data on the app, which was an instant hit this year with roughly 30,000 downloads, is crowdsourced by the app users.

How’s my driving - performance assessments
Qatar
Founders: Qatar Mobility Innovations Centre (QMIC) in 2015
Investment: $0

How’s My Driving is an app that allows drivers to assess and improve their driving, with the incentive of lower insurance costs. The app, which is free, works offline and uses certain criteria such as speeding, brakes usage and maintaining adequate distance from the car in front. The app can also be used by motorists.

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